Issue 38

When it hurts, we go to the doctor

Szilárd Kacsó
CEO & Trainer @ Azimut Happy Employees @ updateED

When it comes to our health and well-being, we call in a specialist. And we usually want the best one around, whose advice and treatment we're careful to follow. We don't trust what we read over the internet, or tell the doctor how to operate, right? In the end, it comes down to protecting our health. But do we do the same when our company is concerned? 

It hurts, but we refuse the recommended treatment

It hurts. We know it does: we don't have the team we'd wish for, results are not the ones expected, or the team isn't as consolidated at it should be. And it hurts. The health of our organisation is dwindling, and we're thinking to fix this by organising a team-building. Surely we can treat ourselves, right? We can take care of organising it internally because all in all it's not that hard. Employees should feel good, have fun, play some paintball, do some bungee jumping, and in the end they'll start socializing on their own. We invest some time, resources, and money into this "treatment", in the end only to notice that we're not seeing any of the desired effects. Maybe because the administered "treatment" wasn't the right one?

The fact that socializing can have a major impact on the performance of a team is not a new fact. Informal events contribute to the release of stress and worries after a prolonged period of intense work, to the development of interpersonal relations, to the celebrating of success and achievements, to offering a motivational impulse. But these get-togethers can't substitute real team building activities. Team building programs play different roles and have different objectives. "Team building" is a "treatment" through which a group of people is provoked to work together effectively, as a team, with the help of several events and activities meant to increase motivation and promote cooperation. These activities, facilitated by specialized trainers, increase team performance and help fulfil specific organizational objectives. 

What should the administered "treatment" focus on?

If we've come to realize that it's in our organization's best interest to call in a "doctor", it's also recommended to follow-up on the prescribed treatment. Even if some stages of the team building program may not seem that important to us, we should stick to them nonetheless in order to reach the end goals. 

What are the elements of a team building which we should not shy away from? 1. Clearly defined objectives, in tune with organizational objectives.

2.  Personalized activities, adapted to the program, group, or specific situation objectives that the participants or team are confronted with.

3.  Knowledge transfer: in order for participants to apply what they've discovered during the teambuilding, a quality debriefing is necessary.

4.  An evaluation report for the team building program: structured observation which can be the basis for a needs assessment intended to help create follow-up activities/programs.  

5.  A follow-up program: scientific studies [1] as well as personal experience indicate that follow-up programs (trainings, coaching, organizational development) can insure the effectiveness of team building activities and a long term increase in performance.

6.  ,,Special elements'', which offer a unique experience to participants, help achieve objectives, and facilitate learning: the team building's theme, the game mechanics (gamification), the party themes, etc. 

How can the correctly administered "treatment" help us?

If we call in a specialist and carefully follow his recommendations, such treatments can help our organizational health by: 

• Increasing team cohesion

• Developing new ways of effectively working in a team

• Developing leadership skills

• Developing team problem solving skills

• Facilitating conflict management and resolution with the team

• Improving team communication

• Improving the trust level between team members

• Realizing what needs and problems still need to be addressed (via follow-up programs) 

• Offering a motivational impulse

In conclusion, if we notice several things lacking or which can be improved within our organization, it is preferable to call in a professional and not shy away from getting only the best in service quality. In the end, if it hurts, we ought to go to a doctor instead of treating ourselves, right?

(1)- Tannenbaum, Beard, Salas: Chapter 5 Team Building and its Influence on Team Effectiveness: an Examination of Conceptual and Empirical Developments




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